USAIR HAS TRIMMED its losses by $100 million in the first quarter, producing optimism that it may at last be back on course after a run of disastrous results.

The airline still turned in a net loss of nearly $97 million for the quarter, but claims that this disguises a steady monthly improvement so far this year. Chairman Seth Schofield says that passenger revenues in March were the "highest in the history of the company", helping the group to show a net loss for the month of only $42 million.

USAir may also hope to benefit from Continental Airlines' decision to abandon its low-cost Lite experiment, which has been driving down fares in USAir's eastern heartland (see P18).

The improved USAir performance helps limit the damage caused by recent remarks from its auditor, expressing "substantial doubt" over the airline's ability to survive unless it secures concessions from its workforce.

USAir, which has a tentative agreement in place with its pilots and is in talks with other unions, claims that auditor KMPG Peat Marwick was too pessimistic and points to cash reserves of $400 million.

Source: Flight International